Tuesday, October 23, 2007

the rise of alternative schools

South Sound High, one of the newer alternative schools in Thurston County, is finally hitting a growth curve.
Last year at this time, 133 students attended the alternative high school, which helps students from other district high schools catch up with their high school credits. This year, there are about 182 students and a waiting list of about 40 more.

This year’s change ends a trend of declining enrollment at the alternative school.

“We told the other schools we can’t take any more, but nearly every day, I’ve gotten calls, and (principal David Warning) has gotten calls,” academic adviser Marlys Martin said. She said that students come to the school to catch up on their high school credits. The school also has a GED program that is attractive to some students.

“The need has always been there,” Warning said. “I think the need is growing, whether it’s because of classes that students need to take because of new state requirements or it’s students who are recognizing that ‘I’m behind on credits.'"
Behind "state requirements" lurks the WASL and the graduation project--mostly the WASL, since some schools have lagged in their remediation planning, and since it's encouraging some students to seek a GED instead of a diploma.

Beyond this isolated example, I see only growth in the future of alternative, online, vo-tech and community college programs. It's not ironic: the Frenchification of public education's main-line experience is going to push more and more students to the options.

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